Tony Campolo, John Gallegos, Jeff Bills, and Eddie Rentz

Tony Campolo and three Assembly of God pastors. No–this isn’t a joke. Why do you ask?

Yesterday morning I went to hear Tony Campolo speak at ‘Straight Talk’, a really cool ministry to businesspeople sponsored by Menlo Park Presbyterian Church.

He was really funny–I’d always heard that he was a funny guy, but he was REALLY funny. He was also insightful. He contrasted two basic orientations to life (emotional and rational, people and principle, yin and yang, Pentecostalism and Prebyterianism) and talked about how Jesus was able to integrate them both.

Whenever I’m around a world‐class speaker I always try to glean some tips. He didn’t do a good job of connecting with members of the audience beforehand (we shared a breakfast table separated by one person and barely exchanged two sentences), although I think some of that may have been due to the structure of the event rather than his proclivity (there really wasn’t much of a chance to talk). He did an excellent job of using humor to make profound points, and was an outstanding storyteller. In fact, his talk was really a series of stories connected by some logical transitions.

He was also outstanding at localizing his message. He had tons of jokes about Presbyterians and Menlo Park and other things his audience would resonate with. I’ve got no doubt he’s given basically the same talk many times before, but it felt fresh and special because of the localizations.

Side note: Tony mentioned that he thinks Pentecostalism is theologically inconsistent. I wish I had been able to talk to him about that… but duty called.

As soon as the meeting was over, I had to book it up to Woodland to meet with two pastors (AGTS classmate John Gallegos and Jeff Bills), and then I drove to Sacramento and met with another pastor (Eddie Rentz, the former national youth director for the Assemblies of God: check out his google), and started to drive home just in time to catch the traffic jams.

After returning I visited a student in his dorm room, and then came home around 7:30pm. Twelve hours on the road–not a bad day.

Leave a Reply